If your charity or non-profit relies on donations from foundations and the general public, are you up to speed on the current state of charitable donations, where they originate, and where you stand the best chance of securing funding for your cause?
Total assets of foundations in the United States declined by 18.9 percent in 2022, from $1.304 trillion in 2021 to $1.057 trillion, signaling that foundations may begin reducing payouts in 2023 and beyond, an analysis by FoundationMark finds.
The $246 billion decline in assets is the largest year-on-year dollar decline ever and the second-largest decline by percentage since the 25 percent drop following the 2008 stock market crash, According to FoundationMark CEO John Seitz. FoundationMark’s analysis included the review of the publicly available Internal Revue Service filings of more than 40,000 foundations with assets of $1 million or more, representing 97 percent of all U.S. foundation assets.
The year-over-year percentage decline in foundation assets (a combination of publicly traded equities and other investments) mirrors the performance of broader stock market indices, including the S&P 500, which saw a drop of 20 percent in 2022. Increases in asset value during the bull market that began in the spring of 2020 resulted in a 14.8 percent increase in expenditures since 2019.
Foundations would likely require an 18 percent increase in investment performance (in 2023)—an outcome viewed as highly unlikely by most economists—to offset last year’s losses and maintain their grantmaking levels of the past two years, according to Seitz..
The 25 biggest givers in the United States donated $27 billion to charitable causes in 2022, an increase of 35 percent from $20 billion in 2021, according to the latest annual list compiled by Forbes.
As has been the case for several years, Warren Buffett remains the largest lifetime giver, having donated $5.4 billion in 2022 for a cumulative total of $51.5 billion. Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates ranked second, having given $38.4 billion in their lifetimes and $5 billion in the past year, largely through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Among the biggest givers, 17 are signatories to the Giving Pledge, including Chuck Feeney, sixth on the list with lifetime giving of $8 billion, and T. Denny Sanford, 17th with $2 billion, who—as yet—are the only signatories on the list to have met the pledge’s goal of donating at least half their fortune during their lifetime, as has George Soros, who ranked third with $18.4 billion in giving but is not a signatory, according to the Forbes report.
Several givers on the list increased their lifetime giving by more than 25 percent last year, including real estate developer Donald Bren, 18th on the list with $2.1 billion, who gave $470 million in 2022 (an increase of 28 percent); Amazon co-founder Jeff Bezos, 12th with $2.79 billion, who gave $690 million (32 percent); former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his wife, Connie, 13th with $2.9 billion, who gave $800 billion (38 percent); Facebook (now Meta) co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and Cari Tuna, 19th with $2.11 billion, who gave $670 million (46 percent); and MacKenzie Scott, fourth with $14.43 billion—in just three years—who gave $5.82 billion (an increase of 68 percent).
Newcomers to the list include Google founder Sergey Brin, who gave $2.55 billion in 2022, and Citadel CEO Ken Griffin, who gave $1.56 billion.
According to Forbes, the increase in giving comes even as the aggregate net worth of the top 25 givers has fallen 15 percent from $1.1 trillion in 2021 to $936 billion in 2022. Forbes estimates that the current list of top givers has donated $196 billion over their lifetimes, measured by personal donations and foundation grants to causes and nonprofit organizations, not gifts to foundations and donor-advised funds—last year’s gifts from Buffett ($3.1 billion) and Bill Gates ($20 billion) to the Gates Foundation are not counted in their giving totals.
Corporate Giving vs. the Public
Charitable giving increased by 6.6 percent in the second quarter of 2022, even while the number of donors declined by 7 percent, an analysis from Independent Sector (IS) finds.
The report, Health of the U.S. Nonprofit Sector: A Quarterly Review (15 pages PDF), an overview of U.S. government data highlighting the nonprofit sector’s economic contributions, human capital, and activity, indicates a reversion to pre-pandemic trends showing a decline over more than a decade in the number of individual donors even as charitable giving continues to reach all-time records. The number of donors who gave less than $100 decreased 17.4 percent year-on-year, and those giving between $101 and $500 fell by 8.4 percent, while donors who gave more than $50,000 showed no decline.
The report’s authors found that racial and ethnic diversity within the nonprofit sector remains largely unchanged. As of the third quarter of 2022, the proportion of white workers (76 percent) remained higher than pre-pandemic levels (approximately 70 percent) indicating that the disproportionate effect of the pandemic on the employment of non-white staff remains unresolved, particularly for Hispanic workers whose participation in the nonprofit workforce declined by 2.8 percent—echoing similar findings from a 2022 report from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
According to IS, the report is also a call to action, highlighting disparities in federal reporting. The report noted that even though the nonprofit sector is the country’s third-largest private workforce—contributing $1.5 trillion per quarter to national GDP—the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not release quarterly employment and wage data for the sector. Nonprofits “serve as the essential and trusted delivery agents for government programs at all levels,” the report’s authors added. “Given the essential role filled by nonprofit workers, it is simply unacceptable that the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not release nonprofit data on a quarterly basis as it does for other industries.”